SUN, sea and severed heads: Mexico is not a holiday destination for the faint-hearted. Foreign news coverage of the government’s crackdown on organised crime, which has seen some 30,000 people die in the past four years (most of them drug traffickers), has given the impression that the country is “burning from the Rio Grande to the border with Guatemala,” Mexico’s ambassador to the United States complained this month. For an economy that relies on tourism for nearly a tenth of its income, the gruesome headlines are painful.
Yet Mexico’s tourism sector is doing rather well. After an appalling 2009, in which the outbreak of swine flu emptied hotels overnight, the number of visitors this year will be close to 2008’s record total of 22.6m. Even excluding 50m annual day-trippers, Mexico remains the world’s tenth most-visited country. The numbers in August were the highest-ever for that month, despite a bomb attack on a United States consulate a few months earlier.
ORGANISED crime appears to have claimed another prominent political scalp in Mexico. Jesús Silverio Cavazos Ceballos, who served as governor of the tiny state of Colima until November 2009, was gunned down by three men outside his home yesterday morning. So far the killers, who arrived in a Jeep that had been reported stolen in the state of Querétaro, have not been found, nor a motive established.
María Félix warmed hearts and bottom lines in the golden age
WHEN the Morelia International Film Festival began in 2003, the organisers struggled to find a home-grown release with which to open it. This year’s festival, which took place last month, was spoilt for choice. The number of films made each year in Mexico has trebled in the past decade (to around 70), largely thanks to a big increase in state funding. Last year the government gave out $73.3m in grants and tax breaks to Mexican producers; this year it will also offer rebates to foreigners who make their films in Mexico.
THE mosquito-infested jungle near the mouth of the San Juan river seems of little value. But to Daniel Ortega, who in a year’s time plans to seek a third, unconstitutional, term as president of Nicaragua, the sticky marshland is proving useful. The right bank of the river marks Nicaragua’s border with Costa Rica. The two countries have squabbled over navigation rights for more than a century. But last month Nicaragua went further: a group of Nicaraguans dredging the river set up camp on the Costa Rican side, backed by about 50 soldiers. That prompted Costa Rica to send 70 police to the border and to call in the Organisation of American States to mediate (it wants both sides to withdraw and talk).
EVERYONE knows that Brazil is the beating business heart of Latin America, right? Maybe not, according to the World Bank. A report published this week found that Mexico was the easiest place in Latin America in which to run a company, closely followed by Peru and Colombia. Worldwide, Mexico came 35th, beating the likes of Spain and Italy. Brazil came 127th.
The red tape that ties down businesses is being modestly pruned around the world. But there is still an awful lot left to cut
Nov 4th 2010 | LAGOS AND MEXICO CITY
THE streets outside are searingly hot, noisy and pot-holed. But Tunde Oyekunle’s air-conditioned office is an oasis of calm. Mr Oyekunle runs a property consultancy in Lagos, Nigeria’s business capital. He is also setting up a company to make window-frames and other fittings. “You’re expected to keep jumping through the obstacle course—and to enjoy it,” he says of the constant frustrations of being an entrepreneur in such a chaotic country.
CALIFORNIANS voted last night not to legalise cannabis. The margin of victory—56% to 44%, according to initial projections—was wider than some polls had suggested. Legalisers have vowed to try again in 2012, but the “no” camp is buoyant. “If they think they are going to be back in two years, they must be smoking something,” said Tim Rosales, head of the anti-pot campaign.